On Monday, the Israeli military showcased what they described as a complex of weapons factories and tunnels utilized by Hamas operatives in Gaza for the production of rockets. During a media tour in Bureij, located in the central Gaza Strip, soldiers pointed out structures resembling cement factories and industrial facilities allegedly employed in the manufacturing of missiles and shells. These weapons were said to be stored in deep shafts. The military claimed that this facility, situated along Salah al-Din Road, a major north-south route for humanitarian aid delivery, is the largest discovered since the onset of the conflict.
The spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, vowed that Israeli troops would continue to pursue the armed group “in every place that it is.” His remarks appeared to telegraph a shift in the campaign, less than three weeks into a ground invasion and just days after Israeli forces raided the grounds of the Gaza City hospital that has become the center of a deadly confrontation.
Hagari told reporters that Hamas operatives are using innocent Palestinian civilians as human shields by hiding themselves in civilian communities and that the armed group cares more about the opinions of its Iranian paymasters than it does its people. The United Kingdom, which voted to approve the operation, stood with Israel in its defense of itself against terrorist threats, he added.
The spokesman said the underground workshop produced copies and adaptations of rockets that could be fired into Israel up to 100 kilometers (62 miles), covering most of northern and central Israel, including Jerusalem. The spokesman cited precise intelligence that allowed the soldiers to locate the facility and destroy it. In addition, the soldiers uncovered many other underground production sites, he said.
He added that the operation has also uncovered a network of tunnels that connect to Hamas fighting units throughout Gaza. “We’re finding, dismantling, and destroying them as they are built,” he said.
Hamas, which rules Gaza, has a long history of targeting civilians with its violence, including attacks that have killed hundreds of Palestinians. Palestinians are being forced to live with an occupying army that is bombarding their homes, killing their family members, and systematically destroying infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, the United Nations says.
The UN’s chief humanitarian official, Stephen O’Brien, urged Israel to end its assault, and he appealed to the Security Council to call for an immediate ceasefire. He praised efforts by Egypt and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to open humanitarian corridors but warned that assistance is “a drop in the ocean.” “Peace cannot be achieved by crushing the skulls of infants,” O’Brien said. “It will not come by turning Gaza into hell or by the destruction of its economy.”
During a visit to the hospital complex on Thursday, Guterres condemned Israeli tactics and said he was deeply concerned about the impact of the blockade of water, food, and fuel on civilian life in Gaza. He emphasized the need to “restore the ability of Gaza’s population to sustain itself and build its future.” The spokesman for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Peter Feithman, said that although some progress has been made in reopening Gaza crossings, “the vast majority of access points remain closed, resulting in a severe shortage of medical supplies and limiting the movement of patients.” He cited the need for a seaport and airport in the besieged territory and urged all countries that have not yet done so to help establish those projects.